By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Violence against Women and Girls has become a new normal, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These past months have been trying for the society with reports of sexual violence committed on women, girls and babies as young as 6 months.
Sadly, more cases of sexual violence/rape go unreported as some families and communities practice a culture of silence or indifference about sexual violence/rape leaving the victims traumatized.
Child sexual abuse is a widespread problem. “The phenomenon has become so rampant that women now live in constant fear for themselves and their children. It happens in schools, in cars, in parks, in uncompleted buildings, in homes. Perpetrators have no regard for age or social status,” a communiqué from the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRA stated.
“Boys will be boys”, “she was drunk”, “women say no but they mean yes”, “the way she dressed was asking for it”, all these and many more are statements made to justify rape. Such statements according to gender experts will continually sponsor rape culture in our communities if nothing is done. “Nothing justifies rape! It is a crime, which has devastating effects on its victims,” Kum Gilian said.
“The issue of girls dressing indecently does not call for them to be raped. What about guys who dress indecently are they being raped too? Or what about a six month or one year child, was she indecently dressed before she was raped?’ she pondered
This year alone, more than eight cases of rape have been reported within a span of a few months. A 17-year-old girl identified as Minette Fosting was reportedly raped to death in Douala, Littoral region of Cameroon. According to reports Minette was found beside a construction site in Logpom not far from her family house alive but in a critical condition early Wednesday, September 30.
The results sources say revealed that the teenage girl was suffering from vaginal discharge, vulvar secretions and dehydration suggesting signs of forceful recent sexual intercourse, an interpretation supported by the family. Despite the care administered on her, Minette succumbed to her condition.
Law enforcement officers on January 7, 2020, arrested and detained a class six teacher of primary school Bonabome in Ndobo, a locality in Douala Four Subdivision, Littoral of the Central African country.
Kounj Jean Marie, Commander of the Gendarmerie Research Unit, Bonaberi where the teacher was detained said the suspect was presently behind bars for allegedly raping minors of his primary school whose ages range from 10 to 14 years.
Buma Kevin had raped a total of eighteen (18) young girls in the school, the Commander said, adding that during the question and answer session with the Gendarmes, Kevin admitted to all accusations.
Rape is a serious problem that can have lasting, harmful effects on victims and their families, friends, and communities as a whole. “As in society at large, this particular form of sexual abuse and violence against women in Cameroon persist, for many reasons, including the failure of adequately holding perpetrators accountable, that is, the (often correct) assumption that reporting a rape case to law enforcement won’t result in prosecution, the pattern of victim-blaming, patriarchal attitudes, stigma, and widespread ignorance and apathy where some claim ‘it is not my business’. These all contribute to underreporting and the perpetrators go free, waiting for their next victim,” CHRDA stated.
Observers say there needs to be strong enforcement of the laws regarding sexual assault in the country. They say the perpetrators should be punished and not allowed to go free if some of them have money to buy their way out. “If a man has been caught raping a child, the man needs to be giving life sentence,” a parent said.
“I think there is a fault somewhere. Either they are doing it for money rituals or some kind of manipulation from somewhere whether knowingly or unknowingly. The government, church, judicial authorities need to see how to redress this situation.”